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Republicans cry foul over ObamaCare 2015 enrollment period pushback

 

Republican lawmakers are pushing back hard against the Obama administration's decision to delay next year's open enrollment season for health coverage under ObamaCare until after the 2014 midterm elections.

The Department of Health and Human Services announced Friday it would allow consumers to start signing up for coverage under ObamaCare on Nov. 15, 2014, a month later than originally scheduled. The change does not affect those trying to enroll this year.

Congressional Republicans accused the administration of shifting the dates for political reasons, to hide a spike in 2015 premiums, though information may already be available about 2015 premiums before the elections on Nov. 4.

"That means that if premiums go through the roof in the first year of ObamaCare, no one will know about it until after the election," Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said in a statement. "This is clearly a cynical political move by the Obama administration to use extra-regulatory, by any means necessary tools to keep this program afloat and hide key information from voters."

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., accused the White House of moving next year's open enrollment date to shield Democrats up for reelection next year who supported the law.

“The only American consumers this change will help are Democratic politicians who voted for Obamacare, because it delays disclosure of some of the law's most insidious effects until after the election,” Alexander said in a statement. 

He said he plans to introduce legislation that would require insurers to provide Americans with "proper notice" of premium increases before open enrollment period on the exchanges starts.

The administration says the change is to allow insurers more time to prepare and submit premiums. 

"This change is good news for consumers, who will have more time to learn about plans before enrolling and an open enrollment period that's a week longer," an HHS official told Fox News.

This year, 17 states and Washington, D.C., posted the data publicly ahead of the administration. "We'll definitely start seeing some premiums earlier from state insurance departments," said Larry Levitt of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. 

However, there is one possible way that Democrats could benefit politically. If lighting strikes twice and the website sputters again during the next open enrollment season, that second act would not take place until after the voting is done.

Separately, the administration also announced a small schedule change in this year's open enrollment season, pushing that deadline to Dec. 23. The administration has rebuffed calls to delay or extend the current enrollment period beyond March 31, 2014. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.